Broadband and mobile phone coverage in the Meon Valley are still an issue for some communities. Since I was elected, I have been helping communities access the help the Government makes available through its “Gigabit Broadband” voucher scheme, and many homes now have better broadband as a result. I have been working with Openreach, BT and Ofcom, and held a public meeting on the subject this year. Achieving better broadband and mobile connectivity is vital as the technology continues to evolve and open up new potential for consumers and businesses, and I am please we are making progress.
Protecting our environment and ensuring a new and effective regulatory framework for farmers post-Brexit is a major issue for a largely rural constituency like the Meon Valley.
I am pleased the Agriculture Bill and our landmark Environment Bill came through Parliament and have big influence. I have already been asking Ministers for clarity in areas such as the protection of chalk streams and how farmers will be rewarded for public good like conserving the environment, protecting soil and rewilding.
I also told Parliament we need to make sure that all our countryside organisations are working together collaboratively - because much of Meon Valley is in the South Downs National Park - if we are to succeed with a green agenda while striking the right balance around food production.
Another area I want to see progress on for the Meon Valley is in sustainable house building. We need development that enhances and helps the environment not harms it.
Waterlooville and shopping
Waterlooville is the largest urban area in the Meon Valley constituency, and it is home to many great businesses and organisations which enhance the quality of life for residents. However, I am deeply concerned about the state of Waterlooville town centre. Like most town centres, it has been hit by the rise of e-commerce and a move by some retailers into large warehouse style units outside the traditional centre. That leaves empty units and makes life harder for the businesses which remain – many of whom are locally-based independents.
I have been working with Havant Borough Council on how we draw up a regeneration plan which takes Waterlooville forward but also meets the needs of people who live there. This has excellent support from the community, as I have seen when I have held events or street stalls to talk to people to find out their views.
Noisy and speeding motorcycles is a scourge in the Meon Valley, especially on the A32 and A272 in the summer months. Residents are fed up with it and we are working towards finding a solution that is proportionate and effective.
I am pleased that the Police and Crime Commissioner and Hampshire police are investing in speed camera technology to tackle persistent noise and speeding on the A32 and A272 with them set to be introduced by the end of the year. I continue talk with Ministers to find a way forward to deal with this unacceptable anti-social behaviour from a minority of motorcyclists.
As the Parliamentary Candidate for Winchester, I will be sending out surveys and asking what constituents' local priorities are in this area.